Why Is The 8th Amendment Important

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The protection of those charged with crimes is as important as any other provision in the American Constitution. It may sound like a paradox at first that it is this important to protect criminals, but looking further into it, it begins to make a lot of sense. All humans, no matter what, should never be treated cruelly, as our founding fathers knew well, as this would put us at the same level as those we deem to be unfit to participate in normal society. Even though this provision has been in the Constitution since the inception of the Bill of Rights back in 1789, not much attention was brought to it until a case in 1910 brought to light the idea that cruel and unusual punishment was not limited to just barbaric, medieval acts, but that it…show more content…
In the U.S. Constitution, it reads, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” For most of history, as discussed, not many people thought that things happening around them could even partially qualify for the defined “cruel and unusual punishments” or “excessive fines.” Everybody seemed to live with a “you get what you get” attitude. That is, until the defendants in the Weems v. United States case got the idea that maybe the definition could change with time, which was a whole new idea at the time. As people became more civilized and the use of torture and other such horrific acts faded away, they argued that what was considered cruel and unusual could evolve to include things that would have been considered fair in the past, such as how other laws and public opinions evolved (Weems v. United States). For example, the death penalty was almost commonplace and long enough ago, it was even a form of macabre entertainment for some. This contrasts heavily with today’s feelings on the death penalty, with the most common Americans feeling that it should only be used in extreme cases, and some feeling that it should be outlawed entirely. Even recent president Barack Obama has stated in regards to a Supreme Court ruling that “I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for most egregious of crimes”…show more content…
All in all, the Eighth Amendment has undergone quite a revolution in the last century. Its significance in the dealings of criminal law are paralleled by law as it quite literally defines criminal law itself. Most, if not all, cases that deal with the civil rights of criminals, such as the vastly influential Miranda v. Arizona case, which introduced the obligation to police officers to read suspects their natural rights, would have never came about if it wasn 't for the case which changed the meaning of cruel and unusual. As time goes on, society as a whole will evolve, hopefully in a more peaceful manner, and as such the Eighth Amendment will evolve alongside society, keeping up with how the public opinion feels about certain things along the way. In the near future, things like the death penalty might become horrific tales of the past to be left just a bad memory, and in the far future, maybe even things like manual labour will be outlawed with the rise of automation making such labour unnecessary. The evolution of amendments and the rights they bring with them is truly fascinating, and it will be interesting to see how future cases shape the world that we live

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